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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Greed Gone Wild--A Remedy is At Hand

Mr. City Hall married Ms. Filthy B. Rich Corporations at San Francisco City Hall on tax day, April 18, 2011. This marriage was opposed by RTTC Bay Area.  Wedding attendants performed the Tax the Rich shuffle led by Causa Justa Just Cause and People Organized to Win Employment Rights.

by Bill Fletcher, Jr and Alicia Garza

An epidemic of corporate greed is spreading uncontrollably across the United States, wreaking havoc on millions of working families, eliminating jobs and taking homes.  The only cure is for local, state and federal governments to deliver the antidote, commonly known as "Pay Your Fair Share."

Corporations are not paying their fair share in taxes, while millions of working families fall farther down the prosperity ladder.  Local, state, and federal governments slash services and eliminate jobs, and at the same time, are giving tax breaks and other subsidies to Big Business.  Taxing corporations will generate the revenue we need to stop the cuts and create living wage jobs with benefits for millions of unemployed workers.  That is why hundreds of people across the country did the Tax the Rich shuffle on April 18 to demonstrate that taxing those who make the most ensures that everyone has the right to thrive.

RTTC Tax the Rich Shuffle Video in Seven Cities

General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, despite billions in profits did not pay taxes.  Carnival Cruise Lines is another corporation that does not pay its fair share.  They raked in over $11.2 billion in profits since 2006, yet paid only 1.1% in taxes.  Carnival’s low-wage workers pay a higher tax rate than this, as do most people in this country.  Meanwhile, Carnival's CEO Mickey Arison is doing quite well with his net worth of $6.1 billion, making him one of the wealthiest individuals in the world.

RTTC member groups, PowerU and Miami Worker Center doing the tax the rich shuffle in front of Carnival Cruises.

After we bailed out Bank of America to the tune of $100 billion, they made over $4 billion in profit in 2010, and even received a $1.9 billion tax refund.   Two-thirds of all US corporations and 68% of foreign businesses do not pay ANY federal income taxes.  At the same time, corporate profits reached an all-time high in 2010 with an annualized $1.68 trillion in pre-tax operating profits.

Right to the City DC Metro Area member group, Tenants and Workers United in front of Bank of America in Arlington, VA.

The Right to the City Alliance (RTTC), a national alliance of grassroots organizations based in low income communities has the antidote.  The wisdom of our tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed members has led to a simple yet ingenious solution to stop the spread of corporate greed:  Make wealthy corporations and individuals pay their fair share!

Three simple taxes will create $778.50 billion dollars annually which will stop budget cuts and put millions of people to work by creating millions of living wage jobs that will strengthen our schools and communities.  First, close all corporate tax loopholes so Carnival Cruise Lines, Bank of America, and other major corporations pay their fair share, generating more than $400 billion over the next 10 years. Second, place a very small tax on the trading of financial products (0.25% or $1 on every $400 dollars of trading) – stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives based on these products – that would raise at least $500 billion annually.  Finally, generate another $338.5 billion each year through a 1% wealth tax on the top five percent of households in the United States.  With this revenue, we can hire teachers, caregivers for our seniors, childcare workers, firefighters and others so desperately needed in our communities.

Right to the City LA member groups led by Strategic Actions for a Just Economy  and Union de Vecinos in front of Citigroup in Downtown LA.

Actually, NOT increasing taxes on wealthy corporations will cost us jobs.  While avoiding paying taxes, most major corporations are laying off workers and making existing workers work longer and harder for the same pay, increasing their profits and stock value.  They are sitting on about $1.9 trillion in cash reserves which they are not using to hire more workers.  We do not need to worry that they will pack up and leave because they make their money off of our communities.

Right to the City NYC, led by member groups Community Voices Heard and Mothers On the Move in front of the NYC main post office.

The antidote is at hand.  Now it is up to the government to stop protecting Big Business and start looking out for everyday people like us.  RTTC’s three simple taxes will allow the government to balance the budget and create millions of living wage jobs with benefits each year.  This will put people back to work and strengthen our schools and communities.  Big Business, it's time you pay your fair share.

Bill Fletcher, Jr, Editorial Board and Visiting Scholar with CUNY Graduate Center

Alicia Garza, Chairperson of the Right to the City National Alliance (RTTC) Steering Committee.  RTTC is a national alliance of 40 grassroots community groups working for human rights and democracy.,

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